Is Your Child a Citizen? Hmm, strange title, Dave. A Citizen of what country?
Ah, that’s the reason for this article. One might think that would be an easy answer, but I get many queries that show me that a lot of parents, of every different nationality, don’t really know just what the citizenship of their children is … or what it could be … or what it should be.
Is Your Child a Citizen?
This is pretty important stuff, folks, so let’s look at a few issues that might clear a few things up, and help parents with some of the important decisions they need to think through when they have children.
How To Determine If Your Child is a Citizen?
Many readers here are Americans so they feel they have a pretty good grasp on this … but often they do not. And many of my Filipino friends get their thoughts all messed up on this same issue, because Philippine citizenship laws are very, very different from the US law. Trying to make assumptions about children’s citizenship, especially when they are born overseas, can lead to confusion.
The basic thing to keep in mind is, that even though there are about 200 countries in the world … all with their own set of rules, all the different laws fall into two basic categories:
Jus sanguinis (Latin: right of blood) , and Jus soli (Latin: right of the soil).
The US operates primarily on the Jus soli principle. Almost everyone born in the US becomes a US Citizen by birth. Doesn’t matter who your parents are in most cases.
The Philippines, Japan and a number of other countries use the principle of Jus sanguinis. The place of your birth doesn’t matter much at all, the nationality of your mother, or your father, or both parents decide what your birthright nationality is. In a Jus sanguinis country, like the Philippines, you can’t normally become a citizen by virtue of being born here.
This can be very confusing to some foreigners. Their have children in the Philippines and they assume their child is thus automatically a Filipino. But he or she is not a Filipino, unless at least one parent is a Filipino at the time of birth. If the mother is, say, a former Filipino who gave up Philippine citizenship to become a US citizen, guess what … her Philippine-born child is NOT a Filipino … unless she reacquired her Philippine citizenship, a subject to deal with another time.
Now, to make this a little more confusing (oh, yes, it gets more confusing, trust me), many countries, like our good old USA don’t apply the principle of Jus soli exclusively. Jus sanguinis appkies for children born anywhere in the world of US parents. If you are the mother or fatherr of a child and they are born anywhere, they are a “Natural Born” American citizen.
Other many other countries also apply both principles. So you have to know the laws of the country where the birth took place and the nationalities of both parents before you can just say, “Oh that child is a citizen of whatever country”. He or she might be a citizen of the country s/he was born in, or then agin s/he might not.
Even the “almost always” US Jus soli principle has its exceptions. Not every single person born in the USA is a US Citizen by birth. If the parents are in the US on Diplomatic passports, as one notable example, their children, born in the USA, will not become US citizens at birth. Look up the bio of the current monarch of Thailand, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej. He was born in Massachusetts, USA, but I doubt he’s a Red Sox fan … his parents were in the USA as diplomats when he was born. They were Thai citizens, his Majesty is a Thai citizen, by birth, and his place of birth is nothing more htna a footnote of trivia.
Things are always what they are, but not always what they seem.
Is Your Child a Citizen — Case Study
I led you down this path of enlightenment/confusion as a little background for this little “fire starter” comment I received recently:
I’m Filipino citizen but presently living in Czech Republic together with my Filipino-Czech daughter and Czech boyfriend. I’m planning to go back home to Philippines with my daughter and the father of my daughter. My boyfriend & I decided to live in Philippines starting next year. My daughter acquired her Czech citizenship but still she has Philippine passport. Now my question…1. Is my daughter still a Filipino citizen even she acquired her European citizen? Do I have a problem with her documents to live back in Philippines? 2.’ Am not married to the father of my daughter although we live together, can he stay in Philippines for more than one year? Can he land a job in Philippines (he is in the field of IT, he can speak English well) ?
Well, let’s take this reader’s comment apart and examine some of the issues, shall we?
Oh, and by the way, my lawyer makes me write this: I am not an attorney. In issues involving citizenship you might require the advice of an attorney, so be sure you seek competent legal advice when you need it, OK? What you see here are strictly my personal opinions and I can always be wrong, so do your own research
Now according to our commenter here, she is a Filipino citizen. I have found a lot of Filipino citizens seem to be missing out on an important fact. If you are a Filipino, your child becomes a “Natural Born Filipino” at birth. It doesn’t mater who the other parent may be, it doesn’t matter where the child is born. Under the laws of the Philippines that child is a “Natural Born” Filipino.
And note, I stress that “Natural Born” phrase. there are other ways to become a Philippine Citizen, but there are certain laws and rights in the Philippines that only a “Natural Born” Filipino is entitled to.
Again, for those who aren’t always listening (or reading), you do not become a “Natural Born” Filipino by being born in the Philippines. You become a “Natural Born” Filipino by having one or two Philippine Citizen parents. The location of your birth has nothing to do with it. In fact. a child born in the Philippines of parents who are NOT Filipinos is NOT a “Natural Born” Filipino. In fact, she or he is not a Filipino AT ALL.
You are a Filipino.
- You gave birth to a daughter. By definition and the 1987 (Cory) Constitution of the Philippines, you daughter is a ‘Natural Born Filipino’. Doesn’t matter where she was born, doesn’t matter who her father was, she’s a Filipino from her first moment of life.
- When you say your daughter ‘acquired’ her Czech citizenship, what do you mean? A legal action of some sort?
- Under Czech law, your daughter is also a Czech citizen, since her father was at birth. In general the Czech Republic does not allow dual citizenship, but they do for children who became citizens of another country at birth:
Voluntary (restrictions on dual citizenship)
Czech citizenship can be renounced voluntarily if doing so wouldn’t cause one to be stateless, or by gaining the citizenship of another state, (effectively banning dual citizenship) unless it is in connection with a marriage or by birth – the Czech Republic does not require children born with another nationality to renounce it upon reaching maturity ….
- So your daughter is, in my reading, a natural-born Czech and a natural-born Filipino. Under Philippine law she is a Filipino for life, under Czech she is a Czech for life as well.
- If you have not already done so, file a report of birth abroad with the Philippine Embassy in Prague. They will course it through the Philippine NSO and when she has her birth certificate, you may also get your daughter a Philippine passport. As a natural-born Filipino, she, like you, can enter the Philippines and stay as long as she chooses to.
- Now, as to the girl’s father. Since you and he are not married, his status as “boy friend” carries no weight with the Philippines. However, as a Czech citizen, he may enter the Philippines at any time as a tourist. He may also avail of an SRRV retirement visa if old enough.
- Should you two at any time decide to marry, you, as a Philippine citizen, can sponsor him for a Philippine 13 series visa, which allows him unrestricted access to the Philippines for life, as your spouse.
- Last but not least, the issue of a job for him. This post is already long and that is a whole different subject. To put it bluntly, his chances are no bright. He needs a visa to work in the Philippines and jobs in the Philippines are hard to find and pay very little. If you look at my job page you can do some searching and see some of the jobs currently available in the Philippines.
Hope this helps and do enjoy your daughter’s dual status. None of us can know what the future holds in store for our children, to my mind, having dual citizenship as she does may well prove to be an advantage to her later in life.
Special note to anyone else with children born or to be born in mixed nationality/country status. There is a WEALTH of mis-information floating around on the ‘Net regarding these children’s status. Much of it, sadly, comes from my fellow Americans who think that all country’s laws on citizenship and nationality mirror those of the US.
Be sure to get facts, not rumor when deciding on things that affect your children’s citizenship … they will pay for the decisions you make when they are children probably long after you are gone. Don’t deny them their birthright.
So who else has comments and thoughts on Is Your Child a Citizen?